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The Good and the Bad of the Law School Community

JD Northern Illinois University College of Law

The community experience is one of the most important elements of being in law school. But, as with anything, it can have its advantages and disadvantages. Both the good and the bad arise out of the fact that you are part of such a small community. Most students went to a much larger undergraduate school and experienced a greater community to appropriately reflect the large student population. It then becomes vastly different when you enter the world of law school where your community is sure to be much smaller. The life of a law student is incredibly busy; emotionally, mentally, and physically taxing; and focused. All of this can lead to very little socializing with anyone outside of the law student community. There comes a point when you may even see more of your classmates than your family.

For the most part, this community feeling is positive and rewarding. They say that no one can understand what law school is like until you have personally gone through it. Your community provides you with multiple people that can understand your frustrations, exhaustion, and sometimes even anger. Because the people in your law school community understand your experience, they can become amazing friends that can help you through the worst of times. Bonds of great friendship are formed in a law school corridor. Not only can your community provide you with friendship, but it can also provide you with guidance in your academics and careers. There have been countless times when I have relied on my study group to help me understand a concept, or when I have relied on advice that only upperclassmen could provide me.

On the other hand, while having such a small community has its benefits, it can also have negative outcomes in law school. The road to achieving your J.D. is a very competitive one; each student wants to get the maximum achievements for all of their hard work. This sometimes leads to the purposeful and deliberate sabotage of fellow classmates. Even without the external interference from others, there is still the difficult position of having to compete against your classmates and friends for the honors that everyone wants. It creates feelings of animosity and jealousy that can be difficult to quench. It can be difficult to find the balance between developing and maintaining relationships, either personal or professional, and achieving great personal success, sometimes at the expense of others.

What it comes down to is to always remember… never burn any bridges in law school, because some day, that person could be your judge!

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